Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from Jesus Christ our Lord.
As I write this on the last day of November 2020, five days after our national day of Thanksgiving, I give thanks for God’s abundant blessings. Looking not to the challenging circumstances in our world and our community, I fix my eyes on Jesus and the hope we have in him. Nothing can destroy us. Nothing can overcome us. Every breath we breathe is the Holy Spirit filling us with life, every moment we are surrounded by God’s lavish love, and the grace of Jesus brings us goodness and joy in every circumstance.

I apologize for the delay in getting this newsletter out to you. Nancy, our church administrator, and I had a potential Covid-19 exposure, and so we had to close the church office the week before Thanksgiving. Both of us also enjoyed a week of vacation over the week of Thanksgiving. In addition, I had surgery on my right Achilles tendon and so was off for on sick leave for a couple of weeks.
I anticipate that we will not be having any in-person worship during the month of December and into January. As long as Auglaize County is red we will not have any meetings nor worship in the building. We are planning to do an outdoor worship Christmas Eve at 5:00 pm in which you can either be outside or in your car listening to the worship service on an FM transmitter.

I personally know of fourteen church members who have had Covid-19, and we have had two members die of the virus due to pre-existing conditions. Our sympathy and prayers are with the children and grandchildren of Jim Knoch and Diane Johnson. We also pray for Diane’s husband John.

As is our tradition during the four Sundays of Advent, “Oh Come, Oh Come Emanual” is sung as we light the Advent wreath candles. This song conveys our heartfelt longing for God to come to us. We hear the echo down through the centuries as our Jewish brother and sisters prayed and sang and longed for the coming of the Messiah to set the world right. We hear and feel the pain of unfulfilled expectations and the relentless suffering experienced by all the people of all times and places who wait for justice, mercy, and restoration. 
Emanual literally means “God with us.” So, our heartfelt longing is paradoxically set alongside the promise that God is already here with us. Jesus, the Messiah, Emmanuel, the Son of God and the Son of Man, is present in, with, and through us.

Christmas is the great promise that Jesus came, is here, and is coming. This year, perhaps more than any other in recent memory, our eyes need to see the world and to see Jesus simultaneously. Remembering that Jesus was born in the most unlikely of places, we look with anticipation everywhere the world is NOT looking, and then, there he is.

 Pastor Doug

PS. Thanks to everyone who sent cards, texted, phoned and emailed after surgery on my Achilles tendon. Your words have uplifted my spirit and encouraged me. I love you all too.